By Michelle Graff

In compiling our Majors newsletter yesterday afternoon, I noticed a trend among the stories I was loading, a trend that I haven’t seen in some time.

All the quarterly financials for the major chains covered by National Jeweler and included in that particular newsletter were positive. Comps rose 14 percent for Sterling Jewelers, 6 percent for Zale Corp., 15 percent for Tiffany & Co. in the Americas and 8 percent for Neiman Marcus.

The sales figures released by major chains are in harmony with the reports we received from retailers and the post-Black Friday sales figures released by a myriad of different analysts and agencies.

In short, it was a strong weekend for sales.

But, will this momentum continue through the holiday season and into next year? The answer seems to be nobody knows, or, at least, nobody can agree on a prediction.

In analyzing sales on Black Friday, The NPD Group Inc. said that the day came in with a “roar” as consumers packed stores early to take advantage of heavily advertised savings but went out with a “whimper.”

According to NPD, 56 percent of consumers who shopped on Black Friday said they weren’t likely to shop again that weekend, an indication that consumers are “tapped out,” one industry analyst said.

The National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest trade association for retail, was more positive in assessing the weekend, stating in news releases recapping the weekend that retailers are “playing a significant role in powering the economic recovery” and that consumers are “clearly demonstrating their desire to spend this holiday season.”

The NRF did note, however, that while consumers are spending, they aren’t exactly sprinting to the cash register with armloads of full-priced merchandise. Both the NRF and the analysts interviewed in this story for The New York Times said retailers are going to continue to have to discount to drive sales throughout the rest of the holiday season.

What impact this will have on retailers’ bottom lines is yet to be seen, one analyst noted.

In addition, I found the conflicting viewpoints of two car company executives interviewed in this story to be interesting, even though it does not pertain to jewelry in particular. One said it was “overstating things” to say the auto industry was in the midst of a sustained turnaround while another offered the conflicting view that the current sales momentum was not an “aberration.”

So where does that leave us? It seems like we’re running out of clichés to use to describe how we feel about these uncertain times (see “cautiously optimistic”). 

But let me borrow just one more: We’ll just have to “wait and see.”

I attended a watch event here in New York on Thursday afternoon and one of the executives told me that the company just experienced one of their best months ever for sales. Yet even he was unconvinced of the recovery, unable to commit to saying he expected a great holiday season.

I guess you could say he was “cautiously optimistic” about the weeks ahead.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.